Letter calls Koret Foundation spokesmans comments sexist and classist

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A group of advocates for immigrants, domestic workers and laborers is demanding that the Koret Foundation apologize for and withdraw negative comments directed against Susan Koret, who recently filed a lawsuit against the foundation.

An open letter was sent to the Koret Foundation board on Oct. 17 from representatives of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, Mujeres Unidas y Activas, the Jewish Labor Committee and other agencies.

At issue was a statement by official Koret Foundation spokesman Nathan Ballard, who told media earlier this month that “Susan was a housekeeper to Joe Koret and his first wife, Stephanie, and was only married to him for a brief period.”

Susan Koret is an immigrant from Korea who came to the Bay Area in 1970. The group said Ballard’s “denigration of Susan Koret’s background as a housekeeper in an attempt to discredit her is both sexist and classist and should have no place in the public discourse in San Francisco. His statement and language is purposely designed to demean and denigrate women, immigrants, and domestic workers and is unacceptable under any circumstance.”

Susan Koret has sued the $500 million Koret Foundation for misdirecting and misusing monies from her husband’s fortune that she says were meant for the poor and for Jewish causes in the Bay Area and Israel. Susan Koret was named “chairwoman for life” of the foundation by Joseph Koret before he died. Prior to becoming his wife, she served as a personal assistant to Stephanie Koret, who died in 1978. Joseph Koret married Susan in January 1981, and she converted to Judaism. He died in 1982.

In response to the suit, the other seven members of the Koret Foundation board countersued, charging Susan Koret with “erratic behavior and incompetence” and seeking her removal from the board.